When looking for SEO companies, it is tempting to choose any company willing to offer guaranteed SEO services. It's human nature - people love a guarantee. This is especially true for purchases where the buyer is buying something outside of their comfort zone. When companies first consider pursuing search engine optimization (SEO) as a potential marketing channel, especially when there are ongoing costs associated with it, they feel comfortable buying “guaranteed SEO”. Unfortunately, this trust in guarantee is misplaced with many SEO companies.
Many questionable SEO companies offer what I like to call a “leprechaun repellent” guarantee. In other words, it's a guarantee that's easily achievable - if you buy such services and aren't hassled by a pesky goblin afterwards, the guarantee is fulfilled. How can you complain?
The truth is that the major search engines don't control, and any company that claims to have a "special relationship" that gives them leverage over natural search engine results is simply relying on your ignorance. Fortunately, that doesn't mean guaranteed SEO is impossible, especially when the guarantee has to do with aggregated results and the methods used to achieve them.
What follows is a partial list of some of the more popular types of guaranteed SEO out there - some of them are about as useful as Leprechaun Repellent, and some of them actually make sense.
The "Leprechaun Repellent" Keyphrases Guarantee
Many SEO companies pride themselves on achieving a certain number of top rankings in the organic results of major search engines. This kind of guaranteed SEO can be tempting, especially for those exploring SEO companies for the first time. After all, it's all about high rankings, isn't it? Isn't that the goal?
The answer is a clear no". Quality SEO companies will point out that the real goal is to bring quality traffic to your website. It's easy to guarantee top positions if you choose uncompetitive or obscure wording—for example, "Leprechaun Repellent." want proof Type "leprechaun repellent" into your favorite search engine. You'll almost certainly find this article dominating the results (caution - if you're reading this article immediately after it's published, the search engines may not have indexed it yet. Wait a week and try again.).
It is extremely easy for SEO companies to achieve high search engine positions for phrases that no one uses. Such rankings may impress your friends and neighbors, but they won't send you quality traffic. They probably won't send you any traffic at all. It is important to note that the term "leprechaun repellent" is used for demonstration purposes only. Many unpopular phrases may not sound absurd. There are certainly countless phrases out there that are extremely re for your business sound levant and which are never entered into search engines. Good SEO companies will avoid such phrases. Leprechaun repellent practitioners will accept them - allowing them to get their worthless guarantees.
There is another aspect of this type of guaranteed SEO where SEO companies guarantee you first place positions in unspecified search engines for more competitive phrases. Unfortunately, this type of guaranteed SEO often involves obscure engines that have a very small market share and are not sophisticated enough to quickly eliminate websites that use spam tactics. In a few documented cases, the guarantees affected search engines that the SEO companies actually owned and operated!
Currently there are really only three major search engines - Google, Yahoo and MSN. There are a handful of smaller search engines that are also worth mentioning, including Ask Jeeves and AOL Search. Any guaranteed SEO should include prominent search engines, not obscure ones.
The "Company Name" Guarantee
There is also a common guarantee that shady SEO companies use that guarantees that a business will show up in a search for its business name. Similar to the "leprechaun repellent" variant of guaranteed SEO, this offers no real value. Sure, if your company name is "Acme" it can actually be competitive - but chances are that if your website isn't already appearing at the top of the search engine results for a search for your company name, it's an easily fixable technical error , which will fix the problem. Quality SEO companies will address this area immediately. Additionally, while obviously desirable, getting your business name ranked high offers only a tiny fraction of the potential value of search engine marketing. The real benefit for most businesses is that search engine marketing attracts potential buyers who don't already know the company name. Unless your company is a household name, having your company name prominent in the results is unlikely to have a major impact on your business.
The pay-per-click guarantee
Some SEO companies offer guaranteed SEO services that promise top positions for certain key phrases in popular search engines, but they rely on dealing with prospects who can tell the difference between natural search engine results and pay-per-click (PPC) -Don't understand ads. With PPC, it's very easy to guarantee a top result, but that result will appear in the "paid" or "sponsored" search engine results. For example, let's say your company installs custom-made swimming pools. While a competitive phrase like "custom pools" might be hard to come by when it comes to organic results, the SEO company doesn't care about organic results. All you have to do is beat the current highest bidder (with your money, of course) and your website will appear as number one in the "sponsored" results. Studies have shown that sponsored results are valued less than natural results by savvy web searchers who recognize them as advertisements. Also, once you stop paying, your ranking will disappear.
The "Submit Your Website to 50,000 Search Engines" Guarantee
There are many variations on this offer, mostly affecting the number of engines promised. Regardless of the number, this is probably the most prevalent and persistent type of "guaranteed SEO," and it's basically a ignorance-based scam.
Businesses that believe they have quality websites tend to believe that the only thing keeping them from search engine success is that the search engines don't yet know their websites exist. However, search engines measure quality in a very different way than a website owner. A properly optimized website doesn't need to be submitted to search engines at all (I'm referring to actual "spider-based" search engines like Yahoo, Google, and MSN, not human-edited directories like Business.com, the Yahoo Directory, and the Open Directory Project) . Search engines prefer to find websites themselves.
This "solution" offers no real added value, except of course for the SEO companies that provide the service. Also, as mentioned earlier, there are no 50,000 search engines—or at least 50,000 search engines to worry about. Do SEO companies offering this service live up to this guarantee? Certainly - they use automatis ated programs to make the submissions. Is this kind of guaranteed SEO worth it? Not for search engine positions, but it can keep goblins at bay.
Given the predominance of "guaranteed SEO" meaningless, the industry's seeming wild west nature, and the reality that SEO companies don't control the results of a major search engine, it seems that guaranteed SEO can never be a worthwhile endeavor . However, this is not the case. If you consider the examples above, it's mostly about specifics - top positions, a certain number of submissions, a certain number of engines. However, good SEO companies that understand that they have no control over individual results should have enough confidence in the overall results of their work and in the security of the methods they use to offer guaranteed SEO that delivers what it promises .
The individual guarantee
In very rare cases, certain qualified, experienced SEO companies can develop a tailor-made guarantee for you based on the analysis of your current traffic data, the competitiveness of your industry and the status of your website. Ideally, you'll be offered this type of specialized guarantee from the start of your relationship with an SEO firm, as it ensures that you're getting targeted, meaningful results based on your specific situation, rather than generalizations that might apply to any business in any industry . Some SEO companies may tell you that a custom guarantee is not possible as they have no direct control over search engine results. However, SEO companies that have been in business for a while know how to weather the algorithm shifts and understand that there is more than one popular search engine. Such a company will be confident enough to create and support a bespoke guarantee for you.
The Targeted Traffic Guarantee
SEO companies committed to providing value to their clients take a baseline measurement of current search engine traffic at the start of a campaign. While, as previously mentioned, SEO companies have no control over search engine results, they should at least be confident enough in their overall abilities to promise their clients that they will generate a boost in targeted search engine traffic based on popular phrases relevant to the business will see . If the company charges monthly for this type of guaranteed SEO, any month of engagement where traffic for targeted phrases does not exceed at least the baseline should not be charged. After all, you pay monthly to protect and improve your positions. While major algorithm shifts that make the results of individual outcomes unstable can and do occur, they rarely occur across all engines at the same time. You should be assured that the company you are paying has a very vested interest in ensuring that they are adapting to the changing nature of search engine algorithms, and few things inspire confidence like knowing that they otherwise would not get paid. If your potential business isn't willing to at least guarantee that it's sending more traffic to your site through targeted phrases each month, it might be time to look elsewhere.
The White Hat Guarantee
SEO companies are commonly divided into two camps - "white hats" (practitioners who strictly adhere to the search engine's advertised terms of service) and "black hats" (practitioners working to unravel the latest search engine algorithms and broaden their optimization techniques based on technology, regardless of engine service conditions). Both approaches are legitimate - after all, there's nothing illegal about exploiting a technical vulnerability for results. Black hat SEO companies, however, put their clients at risk of being penalized or even completely banned from the major search engines. Getting back on track can be a lengthy process, and sometimes it's not even possible. If you're concerned about possible punishment, get your company to guarantee that it adheres to the advertised terms of service for all major search engines. If you can (and this is rare), get a guarantee that your site will not be penalized by any actions taken by the SEO company. This is more difficult for a company to offer as the major engines frequently update their terms of service and techniques that are accepted today tabular may tomorrow be considered unacceptable. A confident company that always plays it safe when it comes to optimizing client websites will offer this kind of guaranteed SEO services as they will not use any techniques that may be penalized in the future.
Abusing the Metaphor (Beating a Dead Leprechaun)
Guarantees are there at least as long as goblins hoard breakfast cereal and star in bad horror movies. So have guarantees that are essentially meaningless but sound serious. A good guarantee should not only address a prospective buyer's basic emotion, but also offer real protection that the purchase he or she is making will yield meaningful results. Many of the most popular types of guaranteed SEO don't, and that's a shame. The industry already has a questionable reputation for "Leprechaun Repellent" practitioners - make sure you're not chasing their rainbow. After all, it's your pot of gold they're after.